Municipal asset management – the maintenance of infrastructure large and small, including roads, utilities, and facilities – is one of a local government’s most significant responsibilities. To recognize the central role of asset management in its operations, the City of Courtenay has become one of the first municipalities in Canada, and the first in B.C., to enshrine its asset management program in a formal bylaw.
Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells said that asset management has been a top strategic priority for council and staff for several years.
“We’re pretty proud of our progress on this,” said Wells. “We’ve moved steadily towards a proactive maintenance model, which we know is actually more cost-effective in the long-run than costly and unexpected reactive repairs.
“It’s our responsibility to maintain these essential assets; our citizens depend on these services. Establishing this in a formal bylaw reflects how important this is, not only for our current residents, but as our commitment to future generations as well.”
A number of Canadian jurisdictions have adopted plans and policies on asset management. The City of Courtenay previously adopted an asset management policy in 2015.
The bylaw takes the policy one step further, and formally stipulates that decisions on the renewal, upgrade, and acquisition of City assets must consider the full cost throughout the expected lifespan of the asset. As infrastructure ages, maintenance costs typically increase. And failure to maintain assets can dramatically shorten their lifespans, potentially resulting in the need for costly upgrades.
The goal of asset management is achieving “sustainable service delivery”: ensuring that current community services are delivered in a socially, economically, and environmentally responsible manner that does not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Senior government grants are increasingly focused on communities with sound asset management practices. In Courtenay, this has already helped achieve a $1.01 million federal Gas Tax annual grant, $3.253 for the 5th Street Complete Street project constructed in 2018, and $1.965 million for the 5th Street Bridge renewal, planned for 2021.
Courtenay has also been selected to participate in a national pilot project that will help strengthen the City’s resilience to the effects of climate change through the Municipal Natural Asset Initiative (MNAI). Courtenay is using the pilot to develop an action plan for flood mitigation in the downtown core through a combination of natural assets and the built environment. Courtenay is also participating in a regional MNAI initiative with other Comox Valley local governments and the K’ómoks First Nation to help value natural assets in the Comox Lake watershed which provides safe, reliable drinking water, and environmental, cultural and economic benefits to the Valley.
Learn more: www.courtenay.ca/assetmanagement